We are a few days away from a significant change in our lives… our oldest daughter starts high school. We went over last week to practice the walk to and from our friends’ apartment where she’ll stay a few nights a week. I was a little shocked at how long it actually took us to walk from their apartment to the school: a good 30 minutes. Łódż is a very large city with well over a 1/2 million people. We are grateful our friends actually live that close to her school.
A few things happened that I want to quickly share. First, I was not weirded out by my 14 year old daughter walking 30 minutes alone in the huge city. Of course there are the safety phrases of : “Stick to the busy streets” and be “constantly aware of your surroundings.” Her school is located on the campus of the University of Łódż near the University Hospital where I had my back surgery 5 years ago! How ironic that she’ll be walking past it every day! Needless to say, there are a lot of people in that particular area who can speak English should she ever need help. (We also, much to her happiness, finally got a SIM card for her phone with a phone number!)
My daughter isn’t a little girl anymore. Now I don’t necessarily get to say that she’s a “freshman in high school” as that’s not a phrase that is easily or automatically understood. Polish high school starts at grade 10 and they don’t use phrases like “sophomore, junior, senior.” The British International school doesn’t use those phrases either. She’s in Year 10 (but not equatable to being a sophomore), so it’s a little weird to get used to this new verbiage. Nonetheless, that day walking to her school, past the brand new train station, next to a beautiful government building with a water fountain, and through the beautiful gardens on campus, I saw her growing up. AND I was at peace.
The second thing that happened was the experience of “God’s Messengers”. We (K, I and our friend who walked with us from her apartment) decided that since it was a good 30 minute walk, it would be useful to learn how to use the tram. Our friend had yet to use it on her own herself, so I really encouraged us to “learn it together”. There’s less fear in numbers! I hate standing out as the obvious foreigner/tourist, but you have to suck it up from time to time to be able to move from that status to the one who knows what they’re doing. Well, we definitely didn’t know what we were doing, but as I told K (while trying to figure out exactly which tram to take, from which platform and from which side of the street), God always sends His Messengers to help! And, He did!
After determining the correct tram to take, we got on. We were armed with the correct change, but after looking and looking, we could not figure out where or how to deposit the change! We were CLEARLY “not from around here”. Do we get off? Do we stay? What DO we do?! I quickly glanced around and saw a guy in his 20’s. I stepped up to him and asked him if he spoke English and if he could help us. Jack pot! He spoke English and he showed us the sticker on the machine that basically said that this tram does not take money. We had to either pay by debit card or have the tram ticket already purchased. Bummer. Neither of us brought our wallet as we were just doing a practice “run” for K… no purses…no wallets! K just happened to have enough change in her iPhone case that we could use to take the tram back, which is why we could even entertain the idea.
All of a sudden, an older Polish lady stood up from her seat and offered her debit card and offered to pay for our tickets. A few side notes from what I’ve learned having shared this experience with others. First… many people get on trams and don’t even pay. There’s always a possibility of getting caught, apparently, as it just depends if there’s someone on board to catch people doing something of this nature. The guy helping us? He didn’t pay. He was just riding it. Not paying and riding the tram is pretty common, which is why my second note is even more poignant! Second, an offer to help is HIGHLY uncommon. It’s the mantra of ” You’re on your own kid. Good luck!” Yet here was this woman who offered to pay for all three of our tickets! While the transaction was taking place, K and I looked at each other and smiled. See?! See?! God sent a Messenger to help! **
For me, to experience that with my daughter was pretty darn special. I find I’m having to reflect on that more this week as the days get closer to when I’m actually going to be dropping her off and not be there at her side. My heart flutters a little more with anxiety about her truly being “on her own” with no Mom or Dad by her side.
She will be on her own…. but not really.
God’s with her. He’s been with her this past year when she struggled with her life turning upside down. He is with her now as she processes new emotions in prepping for yet another totally new experience, and He will be with her when she is no longer in our watchful eye and care. He’s got this. Perhaps He needed to show me that more than He needed to show K!
Yes… yes, I think so…. just when I think a lesson in God’s provision and love is for someone else, He shows me just how loving and caring He is towards me!
** Before leaving the apartment, I had grabbed a 10 zloty bill out of my wallet and stuck it in my back pocket…. for “just in case” we got hungry and wanted to grab a pastry! Thankfully, I was able to pay the lady with the bill, rather than the loose change K had on her! Also, once we got off the tram at our stop, we found a ticket booth that takes change. This is where we can get tickets for each week and all she has to do is have it validated once on the tram!